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Joggler Interview – Barry Goldmeier the Amazing 5-ball Marathon Joggler

Here’s another in our series of interviews with other jogglers around the world.


Barry Goldmeier started joggling road races in the mid 1990’s and has joggled more racesjoggling marathon barry than he can remember.  He recently participated in the Chicago marathon but got cut short when they closed the race.  He is rare among jogglers in that he does these races while juggling 5 bean bags at a time.  Having tried it myself, it is a much more difficult proposition than merely juggling 3.  This man has some skills.

JYAJ: When and why did you start joggling?

GOLDMEIER: I first joggled at the 1989 Juggling Festival in Baltimore. The joggling races were at the end of the juggling festival and since I once ran cross country, figured I would give it a shot. I practiced a day or two for a couple minutes before the event and found I could jog without dropping, but sprinting was another story. My strategy for the 100 meters after very limited practicing was to run as fast as I could. That was about 15-20 meters. Then I had a drop. I came in last, but it was something I knew I could do with practice.

At the festival I saw Billy Gillen (5-ball joggler) when he was at his best. I think he went to 3 or 4 juggling festivals but in 1989 he was by far his best. He was so good. It was probably just after that when I started practicing five ball joggling.

JYAJ: How many races have you done while joggling?

GOLDMEIER: I lost count of that long ago. For many years I used to do just the joggling races at the July juggling festival, but in the early to mid 90’s I did my first marathon. After that I tried to do all the races in the Baltimore – D.C. area that were 10k and longer. Occasionally, I’ll do a 5k but they are usually too crowded. In a typical year, I do 1 or 2 races a week during the spring, a couple during the summer and more during the fall. It comes to about 30 races a year.

JYAJ: What are some of your favorite races?

GOLDMEIER: It used to be the New York City Marathon but I never get in there anymore. Fortunately, I just found out I’ll be running that one next year (2008).

I also used to like doing the 5k and the Half Marathon at the Philadelphia Distance Run. 2 and a half hours after the half marathon started they did a 5k from the finish of the half marathon. I usually would finish the half marathon, take off the half marathon number get something to drink and do the 5k. It was good marathon preparation, but Elite Racing took over the race and discontinued the 5k.

Here is a list of races I have done pretty much every year for the last 10 plus years that runners on the east coast probably have heard of. Cherry Blossom 10 miler D.C., GW Parkway Classic 10 miles ( D.C.), Philadelphia Broad street Run 10 miler, Annapolis ( Md.) 10 miler, Philadelphia Distance Run half marathon, Army 10 miler (D.C.), Baltimore half marathon ( last 5 years), and Marine Corps Marathon (most years). I did the Philadelphia half marathon last year and may be doing that every year now like the other Philadelphia Runs Broad Street and Distance Run. I also did the Virginia Beach Half Marathon the last 2 years and may regularly do that.

JYAJ: What is your best story about joggling?

GOLDMEIER: I could go on forever about this one but one of my favorites involves Alan joggling washingtonWebb (the current American mile record holder). In a March 2001, I was joggling at the Reston 10 miler in Virginia. I had heard that Alan Webb went to South Lakes High School in Reston, Virginia where the race took place. He had just run an indoor mile in under 4 minutes which led many to believe that he might break the long-standing high school mile record.

After the first mile the timekeeper asked if I would juggle the whole way. People next to me told me it was Alan Webb but I couldn’t see him through my joggling. Around mile 6 I heard, “I can’t believe you are still juggling. ” I stopped to look and thought it was Alan but couldn’t be sure.

When I finished the guy came up to me and said he saw me at various parts during the race and couldn’t believe I juggled the whole way. I asked what his name was and he said Alan Webb. I couldn’t believe it. Then one of his buddies asked if he could take a picture of me juggling. So, I juggled for them and we chatted another 5 or 10 minutes. I remember telling him that he could probably run under 4 minutes juggling 3 balls if he practiced, and that a relay team of 4 people has already gone under 4 minutes for a mile. I guess I failed to convince him as I don’t think he juggles or joggles.

I would see him again at the Prefontaine Classic just more than 2 months later where he broke the mile and 1500 meters records. Thanks to Albert Lucas I had access to the athletes staging area, and shortly after the record I just walked up to him and his coach congratulated them and talked with them briefly alone in between them being mobbed by the media. Ordinarily, I would have been too shy to approach somebody after setting a record like that, but since he came up to me and just started talking, I thought it would be ok.

JYAJ: What kind of training do you do? How fast do you run?

GOLDMEIER: I run about 6-10 miles every other day, always around a track wherebarry goldmeier running and juggling there are no potholes or sharp turns. Lately, I have been joggling close to every day ( 5 or 6 days a week as we haven’t seemed to have any rain). I do run on back to back days at times and other times I will skip a workout because of rain, unavailable track.

I almost always joggle in the evening so the sun isn’t a factor. I don’t juggle when it rains but the sun and heat doesn’t keep me away.  I do intervals on a track once a week and usually with a running group where I am the only juggler. The wind isn’t much of a problem until it get to about 25-30 miles per hour which rarely happens. I use heavy squishy beanbags made by Bill Coad.

JYAJ: How long do you think you will keep joggling?

GOLDMEIER: Probably as long as I can, but I don’t know. I used to play a lot of sports when I was younger. I played tennis in high school, college and several years after college in USTA leagues.  I thought I would never stop playing but in the last 10 years, I don’t remember playing competitive tennis.  Now, joggling takes up most of my time.

JYAJ: Do you eat a special diet?

GOLDMEIER:  No, not really. I am always hungry during running season and seem to always need food.  I rarely eat deserts, but have lots of pasta and bread, and eat several Powerbars a day.

JYAJ: Do you have any advice for would-be jogglers?

GOLDMEIER: Have fun!

Thanks Barry!

Barry will be joggling the Marine Corps Marathon in a couple of weeks.

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